According to the study, a research team has created a tool that measures the negative effects of medications using natural language processing, an artificial intelligence methodology, and chemical structure analysis.
The new tool is made to determine which medications are more likely to cause anticholinergic side effects, which affect the brain by inhibiting acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter.
Professor Chris Fox from the University of Exeter in the UK stated, “Use of medicines with anticholinergic effects can have significant harmful effects for example falls and confusion, which are avoidable, we urgently need to reduce the harmful side effects as this can lead to hospitalisation and death.”
“This new tool provides a promising avenue towards a more tailored personalised medicine approach, of ensuring the right person gets a safe and effective treatment while avoiding unwanted anticholinergic effects”, he added.
Antidepressants, stomach medications, bladder medications, and Parkinson’s disease treatments for elderly individuals are a few examples of over-the-counter drugs that can have anti-cholinergic side effects. Confusion, blurred vision, light-headedness, falls, and a decline in brain function are some of the side effects. Long-term usage of it may potentially increase the risk of dementia.
According to research reported in the journal Age and Ageing, the tool evaluates anticholinergic burden by allocating a score based on reported adverse events and closely matching the chemical make-up of the drug being considered for prescription. This scoring system is more precise and up to date than any prior system.
In addition, the researchers surveyed 110 medical specialists, including pharmacists and nurses who write prescriptions. When asked if they would utilise a tool to evaluate the risk of anticholinergic side effects, 85% of this group responded in the affirmative. To further enhance the tool, the team also gathered usability feedback.
According to Dr. Saber Sami of the University of East Anglia, “Our tool is the first to use innovative artificial intelligence technology in measures of anticholinergic burden, ultimately, once further research has been conducted the tool should support pharmacists and prescribing health professionals in finding the best treatment for patients.”